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Dubai cuts alcohol tax, license payment amid struggle for vacationers, expats – The Washington Submit


With competitors for tourism heating up within the Persian Gulf area, Dubai’s New 12 months’s decision seems to be attracting extra guests and expatriates, because the emirate this week suspended its tax on alcohol and dropped the payment for consuming licenses.

Dubai’s tolerance of liberal life, no less than in comparison with its neighbors, has for years made it one of many Gulf’s major locations for vacationers and expats, each of whom needed to pay a 30 p.c tax on alcohol. Whereas Dubai doesn’t permit Muslims — which represent the overwhelming majority of its residents — to imbibe, the relief will nonetheless have far-reaching implications, as about 90 p.c of the United Arab Emirates’s inhabitants are foreigners.

The comfort of rules additionally comes as alcohol-free Saudi Arabia tries to lure expats from Dubai, one of many UAE’s seven emirates and the area’s financial hub. (The UAE additionally lately loosened legal guidelines governing heterosexual intercourse and marriage.) Dubai’s inhabitants grew by greater than 7 p.c, to three.5 million, from June 2019 to June 2022, in keeping with authorities estimates.

Dubai’s two major liquor retailers mentioned after the brand new alcohol guidelines kicked in on New 12 months’s Day that their costs will mirror the change. “New yr, new costs!” African + Jap, one of many retailers, wrote on Instagram.

A license is required for overseas residents in Dubai to drink alcohol, transport it or retailer it at dwelling. However the roughly $73 payment for the license was additionally dropped, “following the current directives of the Authorities of Dubai,” mentioned retailer Maritime and Mercantile Worldwide, a subsidiary of the state-owned Emirates Group. The payment was solely required of residents, as vacationers can obtain momentary licenses without spending a dime.

Qatar, in reversal, bans alcohol sales at World Cup stadiums

Whereas alcohol is just not broadly served in Dubai, it may be discovered in lots of inns and different institutions that draw vacationers and expats. (The Embassy of the UAE in Washington advises vacationers to not ask for alcohol if it’s not on the menu.)

The privilege to drink in Dubai, nevertheless, comes at a value, as many distributors have constructed the 30 p.c tax into beverage costs. A pint of Budweiser prices about $13 at Biggles Pub, a resort bar close to the Dubai airport. Representatives for a number of inns in Dubai didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark whether or not they would drop their costs according to the suspension of the tax.

It was additionally unclear whether or not the suspension can be everlasting. The Monetary Occasions reported the modifications have been a part of a year-long trial interval. The Dubai authorities didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

“Drinks out in Dubai are the most costly drinks that I’ve ever purchased,” mentioned Lawrence, a 40-year-old British expat who lately moved to the emirate. He very not often orders drinks with dinner due to the prohibitively excessive costs, he mentioned.

Lawrence, who spoke on the situation that solely his first identify be used as he was not approved by his employer to talk on the subject, mentioned many expats in Dubai choose up liquor at obligation free shops whereas touring. The suspension of the alcohol tax will save him from these errands, he mentioned, although he was not optimistic that the financial savings can be handed on to clients at bars.

The competitors for vacationers and overseas professionals is rising stiffer within the Gulf area, with international locations equivalent to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in search of to wean themselves off dependency on oil income.

Saudi Arabia has made tourism a pillar of its Imaginative and prescient 2030 plan, which incorporates bold tasks equivalent to one that goals to show the dominion’s northwest coast right into a “international wellness ultra-luxury vacation spot that focuses on transformative private journeys impressed by wellness, arts, tradition and purity.” However the kingdom’s status has been darkened by the state-ordered killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and some experts have questioned the viability of such dear endeavors.

Qatar, a tiny energy-rich nation typically overshadowed by its bigger neighbors, gained outsize consideration when it hosted the 2022 males’s FIFA World Cup, in an obvious bid to show itself as a viable vacation spot for worldwide guests. However the match additionally drew scrutiny of the country’s human rights issues, notably relating to its therapy of migrant staff. And it sparked a backlash when its last-minute reversal to ban alcohol sales disadvantaged hundreds of thirsty soccer followers of beer.

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